This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is Salt Lake City's only downtown steakhouse that's not on "steakhouse row." That is, whereas Spencer's, Ruth's Chris and Christopher's are all within 300 yards of one another, Fleming's is on 400 West, across the street from EnergySolutions Arena.
That may be a blessing or a curse: The restaurant is set back off the street, hidden between Dick's Sporting Goods and Urban Outfitters in The Gateway, and parking can be a hassle. There's street parking, pay lots, which are free with a validation, or valet, which is $5 with a validation.
Prime steak doesn't come cheap. With 60 or so restaurants across the country, Fleming's knows how to market itself by doing everything it can to attract diners: prix-fixe meals for $39.95; $50-off mailers; five appetizers, wines and cocktails for $6 each until 7 p.m. nightly; and monthly wine dinners.
All the effort seems to be working. On two recent weeknights, the masculine-looking place, done in dark cherry wood and burgundy with white tablecloths and a copper-accented open kitchen, was bustling.
One evening, my dining companion took advantage of that $39.95 three-course prix-fixe meal. (The fall menu, with different offerings, recently debuted for the same price.)
Instead of the salad, she ordered a cup of chunky corn chowder. Then she chose the pastry-encrusted, minced mushroom-topped beef "Flemington" over broiled white, omega-3-laden barramundi, and ended with key lime pie, which was refreshing but tasted more like cheesecake.
Rather than be confined to fewer choices, I opted for the crab Louis wraps ($9.95) with lump crab, avocadoes, bacon, egg, tomatoes and chives with butter lettuce. It's an interesting twist on chicken lettuce wraps, but crisp, chilled iceberg would have been a much better base instead of the delicate butter lettuce.
One of the best appetizers on the menu, which would make a great entrée, is the lobster tempura ($19.95). Six lobster pieces, asparagus, portobello mushroom and red bell pepper slices arrive greaseless and crispy in their golden tempura cocoons. Soy-ginger and red jalapeño pepper sauces come alongside, but I prefer a simple squeeze of fresh lemon to bring out the fish and vegetable flavors, not mask them.
Surprisingly, a standard Caesar salad ($8.50) was a letdown. It had several browned pieces of romaine lettuce, which made it seem as if someone at the salad station didn't really care what he or she was sending out of the kitchen.
In addition to eight prime beef cuts ($29.95-$38.95), there's also lamb, veal, chicken and pork to choose from.
The juicy, porcini-mushroom-dusted filet mignon ($35.95) with Gorgonzola cream sauce was alternating bites of meaty goodness and umami, while the 16-ounce rib-eye ($38.95) had quite a bit of fat on it but, once trimmed, was nicely seasoned and cooked to the requested medium-rare.
Six ribs make up an order of New Zealand lamb chops ($34.95), whose only embellishments, rightly, were salt and pepper. The satisfying, rosy meat didn't need any of the accompanying viscous champagne mint sauce.
Sides here are as big as the meat portions. Fleming's potatoes ($8.50) are au gratin, embellished with cream, jalapeños and cheddar cheese. Creamed spinach ($7.95), already decadent, was served with melted cheese on top, while mashed potatoes ($7.50) can be mixed with parmesan, roasted garlic or pungent blue cheese.
If you have room for dessert, choose the chocolate molten lava cake ($10.50) with two scoops of vanilla ice cream nested in crispy pistachio tuile cookies and chantilly cream, or the gorgeously fluffy New York-style cheesecake ($8.95) with blueberry sauce.
Fleming's takes great pride in its wine program. In addition to its regular wine and reserve lists, the restaurant also offers 100 wines by the glass. I found many of the by-the-glass selections to be mundane, and wasn't happy to find that the glasses we'd ordered were grossly over-priced.
A glass of 2008 Ponzi Pinot Grigio from Willamette Valley costs $10.75 while an entire bottle is $15.99 at the wine store and 2008 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc costs $8.50 a glass and is $11.81 retail. A $10 glass of 2007 Paul Dolan Pinot Noir costs $16 retail. That's three to three-and-a-half-times markup when the industry standard is two to two-and-a-half times. I think a reevaluation of wine-by-the-glass prices is in order.
Service is extremely efficient, with every member of the waitstaff knowing his or her role. For these kinds of prices, expect your napkin to be folded if you make a trip to the loo or get up for any other reason. Plan on your tablecloth being "crumbed."
And be prepared to tote home your leftovers in a brown bag from the ample servings. Fleming's has that part covered, too. What to do with those leftovers? Why, visit Fleming's executive chef's website, http://www.leftoversteak.com, of course.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Food • HHH
Mood • HHH
Service • HHH
Noise • bb
Fleming's makes up for its quirky, off-steakhouse row location with excellent service, mostly great food and oodles of dining specials.
Location • 20 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City; 801-355-3704
Online • http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com
Hours • Monday to Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Sunday 5 to 9 p.m.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $$$$
Liquor • Full service
Corkage • $12; no fee on Tuesdays
Reservations • Accepted
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • No
On-site parking • No; valet $5 with validation
Credit cards • All major